Forever…

Some moments we just wish wouldn’t end. Moments like when a three year old puts his arm around your neck and says: “Grammy I stay with you forever!”

In the midst of laughter and fun come heart-felt words spoken by the innocence of childhood. Forever – just how long is that? Life here on earth is brief. When we’re three it seems like it’s long, but when we’re grammy age we look back and wonder how it can be so very short.

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14 NIV)

Deep in our souls, Christ followers or not, we know this earth life isn’t all there is. But many forfeit eternity – refusing to believe there is any God other than self. So many seizing as much fulfillment here (no matter the cost), because soul deep also is the knowledge that what can be seen – this earthly pursuit – doesn’t last.

“So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2Corinthians 4:18 CSB)

What I want my grandchildren to know is this: this isn’t all there is, and where eternity is spent is a decision. The most important choice one will ever make.

Someday either we will all wear out our earthly bodies or be here when Jesus returns. To live life saying there is no God is the most hopeless life there is. Looking forward only to a weary body that will take a final breath is truly depressing. Ignoring it all and just putting one day after another behind you is foolish.

Time to make a choice – find eternal life or forfeit it. Joy, not happiness, but joy is found in knowing God. For in knowing Him there is peace that there is forever – one without sorrow, pain, or death. And it’s where the one who told you at three he would be with you forever, really will be.

“And this is the way to have eternal life – to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one You sent to earth.” (John 17:3 NLT)

 

 

 

Just Ask…

When I was young I was teased a lot about being quiet. I came to truly dislike the ‘cat got your tongue’ phrase. I was a listener.

I prefer the intimacy of relationships. There would be friends and family alike who would be surprised I was ever teased about being at a loss for words. Now, on the other end of the age spectrum, the power of words, spoken and written, never ceases to amaze me. I still blow it with mine at times.

I’m always awed by the authority of God-inspired words, those spoken by Jesus, written by those emboldened by the Holy Spirit. Powerful – life giving – life transforming – the final authority on all things. “For the Word of God is living and active.” (Hebrews 4:12a NIV)

A powerful use of words – often overlooked – is prayer. I’m completing a twelve week study of just what prayer is. About half-way through as I struggled with an issue, I could feel God saying to my heart: ‘Just ask – what do you want?’ No way was God saying He was going to instantly answer or even answer the way I think He should. But the message was: just spill your heart, get it out. No flowery words, no trying to guess what would be best to pray – just looking to my Father and simply saying: ‘This is my heart’s desire.’

So simple, but my prayers have never been the same since. The peace of the simplicity and knowing that He hears every prayer has been amazing. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13 NIV)

He knows our heart, He knows our needs, He knows what is best. We are children, His children, He just wants us to come to Him. No pretenses, no promises, no hidden agenda. He knows it all anyway. How sweet the time spent just being child-like and telling God our hearts.

It’s time to stop trying to tell Him how He should work things out. Stop trying to find words that might make it happen our way. Time now to just ask – just trust – just pray. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 BSB)

 

 

Walls…

Chalk made train tracks, tricycle raceways, and roads for tiny trucks – my creative abilities have increased. While building tunnels for little boys is an adventure – I’ve recently put up some protective walls that need to be torn down.

This Christian walk is new and challenging every day. Just when I think I’m in that sweet spot, I find myself at odds with decisions I’ve made. When was it ok in my heart and mind to avoid controversy or confrontation because that makes life easier for me. Just when was it that the One I follow ever did that?

Learning lately that there is no encounter that can’t be turned into glory for God. If I will just trust in the victory of the risen Jesus, He will surely bring great things out of all today’s moments. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

We discount the power of the Holy Spirit in us and so that power is diminished. We believe miracles are only in Bible stories and so in our lives we miss them. We forget that victory isn’t in the future, Jesus has already triumphed – meaning we always win (even if in our clouded view it may not appear that way).

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1John 4:4 NIV)

So then it’s not okay to shrink back from speaking truth into a loved one’s life – it’s not okay to avoid the ‘Jesus’ conversation with the unbeliever – it’s not okay to leave any circumstance to chance because prayer is always a sure thing.

The key is praying about everything all the time. Sounds so unrealistic. But it boils down to realizing it’s life. Life for us, for those we love, for those we see hurting. A life-line.

Breath is not a guarantee but for a God who holds all life in His hands and grants that next inhale. He calls us to seek Him only – for those who call on His Name will never be abandoned. Let’s tear down walls of protection and invite the One who has all our todays and tomorrows to be our Courage, our Defender, our Life for those we so badly need to reach for Him.

 

Words…

In all creation only Adam and Eve were given this gift: words. From the beginning God put language into His image bearers.

Imagine this task: “So the LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one.” (Genesis 2:19 NLT) Perfection had not yet been lost to sin and Adam studied the creatures and named them appropriately. So sharp was his mind, he didn’t forget by the time he got to the Zebra’s what he had called the Ants.

And daily Adam (and Eve) walked and talked with God Himself and words were life and life was in the Word.

We throw words around carelessly these days. From angry outbursts to thoughtless tweets, we forget: “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12:36 NIV) Want to really have a reason to think about the words we use? Read Matthew 12:33-37.

To those gifted with speech much is required.

Thing is, God knows every word we’re gonna say even before we say it. He knows our thoughts, our intentions. All is laid bare before Him. The only one we fool is ourselves and sometimes our hearers.

Yet for those who ask Jesus to take over their heart there is hope. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NIV) The Word of Life, Jesus Christ, makes a way for those careless words to be wiped away. A way for hearts to put away foolish talk. Always a Way…

When Jesus is our life then His Holy Spirit is in us – so in us then is the Word. And the Word is life everlasting. We’re works in progress and words are part of the work. God’s will is that our words are lifted up to Him in prayer. That our words are used to encourage and to build up others. That our words are few.

“When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19 HCSB) The Word is calling us to use our words carefully.

 

 

 

When I Grow Up…

There’s a couple little guys that come over weekly to play. One is old enough to talk and tells me I’m his best ‘fwiend’ and throws his arms around my legs telling me he loves playing here. The other one says it all with his eyes and outstretched arms.

I’m a small part of their growing up years. Praying that what they find at grammy’s house and in her heart is Jesus. Songs for Him, books about Him, prayers regularly – and a grammy who wants to someday grow up and be more like Jesus.

I’m working on it – I’ll be a work in progress for a while longer I think. “Then we will no longer be infants…Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ Himself, who is the head.” (Ephesians 4:14a-15 BSB)

Nothing wrong with dreams and hopes about our earthly lives. But what happens when things don’t turn out the way we planned? What happens when what was supposed to make us happy leaves us empty?

This is what those little boys need to understand. Earthly pursuits are just that – earthly, and come to an end and never satisfy. But heavenly pursuits? Oh, my little ones, those are the ones that are earth shakers, eternity makers. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.” (Luke 12:31 NLT)

How do I know? Because I’ve pursued worldly offerings. And while there are sweet memories, there are bitter regrets. But in all my pursuing of God, I’ve never been let down, left out, abandoned, dismissed, rejected, felt less than.

The more we treasure God the less appeal earthly treasures have. Stormie Omartian said: “The truth is, we reflect what we behold.” Are we beholding (seeing, pondering, searching) out the Bible and constantly praying to God – if so we will reflect Him. But if little eyes see us desiring fame or fortune, power or possessions – then all they will see in us is emptiness.

From infant to grown up this is what God has to say: Be like newborn babies who are thirsty for the pure spiritual milk that will help you grow and be saved. You have already found out how good the Lord really is.” (1Peter 2:2-3 CEV)

This is Love…

Our world has some messed up ideas of love. And, truth be told, in our best moments our love is still pretty selfish. Turns out that all the Disney fairytales aren’t love. All the Hollywood steamy scenes aren’t love. All the happily ever afters aren’t earthly. 

In John 15 Jesus gives the definition of perfect love without even telling us that’s what He’s doing. “As the Father has loved me,” (John 15:9a NIV) Gotta stop right there and think about how the Father has loved the Son. Without conditions, completely, nothing held back, perfectly.

He then says: “so have I loved you.” (John 15:9b NIV) That would be you and me He’s speaking to. He has loved us with a perfect love. He gives all of it to us, asking nothing in return.

Can you and I love like that? Probably not – at least not consistently. We are fickle. The least little transgression and there we are holding back. Offended, folded arms. Hurt, walking away.

“Now remain in My love.” (John 15:9c NIV) Let His love be enough. Don’t seek any other fulfillment. Stay with Him. When all that love we’re looking for comes because we stay close to Perfect Love, maybe we won’t so easily withhold our love, or only offer it when someone ‘deserves’ it.

When our husbands, our children, our friends are set free from being our source of love – I bet they’ll find us a whole lot easier to love. Lovely is the person so wrapped up in God’s love, that she loves others along the way without expectations.

This is work for me. You? But it’s not really optional.My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 NIV) It’s a command. Just before that verse (verses 10 and 11) He made it clear that obeying His commands keeps us in His love and fills us with joy – complete joy. Isn’t that what we want?

So how can we be sure God’s love for us is perfect, that He makes our joy complete? “This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the payment for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 GWT)

 

Peace Like…

Perhaps my friend nailed it recently when she determined the reason pressure never seems to let up is that we live in an impatient world.

In just a few decades we’ve gone from looking through a catalog and paying ‘shipping and handling’ to scrolling through too many choices and it arrives tomorrow. Everything is transmitted electronically in seconds. We’ve gone from 9-5 to 24/7.

Expectations of instantaneous everything are set – including no time to think about what we want to say or how to say it. All this impatience manifests in short tempers, unrealistic expectations, and burn out. And our soul longing for peace is greater than ever. Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” (John 14:27a NIV)

If that is true, how is it we can’t seem to find peace anywhere? Maybe we’re looking in the wrong places. Jesus didn’t say, you’ll never have any worries again. Or you’ll have plenty of money in your bank account always. Or you’ll never get sick. Even if we had all those things, there would be other concerns, heartaches.

Jesus went on to say “I do not give to you as the world gives.” (John 14:27b NIV) There’s the heart of the matter. How does the world give – anything? With conditions. And often gives only temporarily. So when does Jesus give us His peace? The moment we accept Him as Lord. And it has no conditions and it’s forever.

We have just a tiny role in all this – our attitude. Jesus finishes the verse “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27c NIV) If peace escapes us, it isn’t because He has removed His. It’s because we are letting our hearts and minds run ahead of us. We’re letting fear run the show.

Oh so easy to say, a little harder not to get sucked into. Yet the very things that help us realize His peace are the ones we often overlook or don’t make time for. The peace that falls when falling in bed with prayer and praise on our lips. The peace that lifts up when we acknowledge God is bigger than our seemingly impossible situation.

Peace that says: ‘this world, this stuff – this isn’t all there is. Someday is closer than you think – so do not worry and fret. Seek the peace I have left with you. Peace like only I can give.’

Which Way…

Stepping out of one year into the next – a last day becomes a first, as seconds tick one into the other.

Odd how we think up ‘resolutions’ or aspire to better this or that just because of a date on the calendar. We’re all about the doing – and really it’s just about the being. “Praise the LORD, my soul! All my being, praise his holy name!” (Psalm 103:1 GNT)

No doubt you’ve heard ‘God has a purpose or a plan for your life’. Indeed He does. Yet, you and me, we live like it depends on us. We head out and set out to do the plan, wondering which way is the best. 

Turns out it’s not about us fulfilling His plans and purposes. It’s about being surrendered to Him so He can fulfill the amazing things He created each of us to accomplish. Amazing? Yes, for even in the diaper changing, in the going to work one more monotonous day, in the seemingly unnoticed parts that seem to be the whole of our lives, He can do the wondrous.

“I am telling you the truth: those who believe in me will do what I do–yes, they will do even greater things, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 GNT)

We get in the way: ‘this year we’ll _______________’ or ‘today I’ll _____________’. But time – years and days and hours and minutes – God is not constrained by these. When we have open hands and hearts inclined to His, He can – and will – show us the way.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

Yes, it is all about being. Being all He made us to be by letting Him be our everything. Then we can confidently step into a New Year, or the next hour, not wondering which way we should go, but following the Way and finding the Truth and living the Life we were meant to live.

 

 

 

 

Heart Beat…

Christmas Eve…Where are our hearts?

Too often scotch tape and shiny paper wrap our souls. Time to break free and be wrapped – with wonder, with the Gift itself. Instead of wrapping up boxes and details, how about we just give rapt attention to Jesus come.

Giving to the Giver a sigh of surrender, taking a deep breath cleansing us with the Holy Spirit, and ears listening for Heaven’s very heart. A heart born beating for us so ours will never stop beating – no not ever. “But God’s gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 CEV)

And the gift we need but seem to miss no matter how many bags we open: peace.

Peace, the Good News wrapped in cloths – and someday Peace will reign forever – and ever. “When the Messiah came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.” (Ephesians 2:17 HCSB)

The merry in our Christmas is not a sentiment – the merry is Sacrifice, the merry is Risen, the merry is Returning soon.

Untie our heart strings from the stuff of life and let our hearts be captured in awe of You, God in flesh. Everything we could ever want arrived lowly, left having been pierced for us, but will return in Alleluia and Victory. And the gift of eternity will take our breath away like no other Christmas morning present.

Joy to the world – joy to you and blessings of amazing love!

 

 

 

 

He Comes…

Christmas can’t be contained in a date 2,000 years ago. There was that one special Bethlehem day – but daily now is the coming.

Then there’s the day you found Christ – right there with you all along. And there’s today when the next thirsty soul drinks deep the coming of Jesus into his heart. He comes, moment by moment – always the free gift.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” (Ephesians 2:8 NLT)

The ‘holidays’ often are lonely-days even when we’re surrounded. Why is that? Because our soul longs for the final coming, that great day He returns and makes all wrong and despair disappear forever. When lonely feelings set in, it’s because we forget: He left a deposit right inside us. A Holy Spirit deposit guaranteeing all we long for. 

He’s right here in our trying chaos – a mess of shiny ribbons, He’s bowing close to untangle us. He’s right here in our loss and grief – when all the twinkly lights go out, the Light comes to us. “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:4-5 NLT)

And…He never leaves. It may seem like it, but that’s just you and me forgetting to unwrap His presence.

Just a few more days and we’ll move past remembering His coming. We’ll start up a New Year and hope for a good one.

But what if…we acknowledge He comes right out of 2019 into 2020 with us? He always does – into days bright and long nights too. He comes to be with us…always. 

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b NLT) This is the Christmas miracle – He comes, never leaves – and eternity is already ours.

HAPPY TODDLER PLAYTIME

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